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New Yorkers Take Second Jobs to Make Ends Meet, Poll Shows

September 11, 2008
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New Yorkers are trying to take their economic fate into their own hands by seeking overtime and getting second jobs, according to a poll conducted by the Siena Research Institute.

In the past six months, 34 percent of New York state’s residents have started a second job or added overtime to their schedules to make ends meet. Of the respondents, 13 percent of retirees said they’ve taken on extra work, as did 43 percent of lower-income residents.

Researchers said residents are partly trying to save up for their winter energy bills.

Gas and food prices have most people’s attention, and many are driving less, juggling spending or rewriting the family shopping list to include more store brands and fewer cookies, but everyone is bracing for the heating bills this winter,” said Don Levy, founder of the Siena Research Institute, in a statement. “Upstate, downstate; all incomes, nearly 80 percent of New Yorkers are concerned about the bite energy will take when the weather turns.”

The poll, which queried 513 households and comes with a margin of error of plus or minus 4.3 percentage points, showed that many residents are simply accepting today’s economic turmoil as a new way of life.

About 52 percent of respondents said they believe the country’s best economic days are behind us and that the next generation will have to accept a lower standard of living. Nearly 75 percent of voters said food prices are seriously affecting their financial condition, and 67 percent continue to feel the pinch of gasoline prices.

In May, fiscal analysts for New York Gov. David Paterson said a recession was beginning in New York and should continue into early 2009.

Still, some optimism remains, Siena researchers said.

“Even though more New Yorkers expect the economy to decline than to improve over the next 12 months, by a margin of 49 percent to 32 percent, residents think their personal situation will improve,” Levy said.

Residents who take a second job or work more overtime are trying to make that happen for themselves.

“It’s a natural reaction to economic insecurity,” said Jim Brown, an economist at the state Department of Labor.

Filed by Elisabeth Butler Cordova of Crain’s New York Business, a sister publication of Workforce Management. To comment, e-mail editors@workforce.com.

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